Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 238: Dr. Jim Peach – Challenges Facing New Mexico’s Economy

On this week’s podcast interview Paul sits down with NMSU economist Jim Peach. Peach recently testified to the Legislative Finance Committee on challenges facing New Mexico’s economy. That testimony is recounted in an Albuquerque Journal story.

Professor Peach and Paul begin by discussing New Mexico’s economy broadly. Why are we not competitive with our neighbors and what can be done to change that? Then, Peach and Gessing discuss the oil and gas industry and its outsized role in New Mexico’s economy and what the professor sees in store for it. Finally, Peach and Gessing discuss the COVID 19 situation and both the near and long-term challenges it creates for New Mexico’s economy and whether the federal government should provide additional bailouts to New Mexico and other states.

Jim Peach (photo by Darren Phillips)

Nationally, this election is about packing the Court and filibuster

The Rio Grande Foundation studiously focuses on state and local issues in New Mexico, but we are now two debates in to the presidential election and it has become clear that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris plan to expand the number of US Supreme Court Justices in order to swamp what COULD be a conservative majority on the Court if Amy Coney Barrett.

Famously, in 1937, Franklin Roosevelt threatened to “pack the court” in order to get his transformative New Deal through a skeptical Court. Those threats alone seem to have convinced the Court to embrace Roosevelt’s radical expansion of government. With both Biden AND Harris refusing to publicly disavow such efforts in each of their debates, there can be no doubt that court-packing will be seriously considered should they be elected AND have Democrat majorities in the Senate.

Combined with complete elimination of the Senate Filibuster and even plans by some Democrats to add several left-leaning states (Washington, DC and Puerto Rico to name two) these are perilous times indeed. These issues should be dominant topics of conversation in this election.

This Is How FDR Tried to Pack the Supreme Court - HISTORY

Tipping Point NM episode 237: Our plan to reopen New Mexico and so much more

COVID 19 update: Trump has it, the Gov. has been self-quarantined after being exposed to it. The Gov. updated us last week but didn’t change anything. She says the virus is spreading as part of another uptick.

Also, the Gov. recently presented to NAIOP on how businesses can help kick start the NM economy. Paul takes issue with that.

What’s OUR plan to reopen New Mexico? We’ve had one since April! https://errorsofenchantment.com/whats-our-plan-to-reopen-new-mexico-weve-had-once-since-april/

We jumped the gun. Bowling alleys aren’t open for everyone, just leagues. And while the Penguin exhibit is open the Biopark’s aquarium is not. Makes perfect sense, right?
A federal Judge supports Gov. Lujan Grisham’s seemingly arbitrary limits on private schools. 

The MLG Administration argues that “There is no fundamental right to in-person education.”  Paul and Wally discuss the meaning of “adequate” and how it always seems to be about inputs (more money) as opposed to outputs (results).

With California’s Gov. banning gas-powered cars, what about the Gov.’s plan to go to 52MPG?

MLG recently stated that New Mexico “should transition out of fossil fuels.”

The minimum wage is set to rise at the end of 2020. Probably couldn’t happen at a worse time. 

RGF has a petition asking MLG to return her salary to the taxpayers until NM’s unemployment rate drops.

NMSU Economist Jim Peach offers his thoughts on New Mexico’s economy and recovery.

Further (insider) analysis on Albuquerque’s golf courses

Yesterday I posted an article about private management of City of Albuquerque golf courses rather than the Mayor’s plan to allow them to suck up more subsidies. I received the following (which reflects my own information) from an informed insider. As usually is the case with poor/costly provision of government services, the issue lies with government labor unions:

The reason the city courses are struggling is the pay and benefits given to city employees who maintain the facilities.  Benefits kill the “pay roll”. City employees maintaining the facility also makes for terrible course conditions.

And if you saw the contract the “concessionaires” sign (private business owners DO operate the “pro shops” and food sales at city golf courses) it’s embarrassing. They give over 16% of revenue back to city which makes it nearly impossible for them to make any money. The national average is 8% back to the city.

Normal golf courses pay the super (80k), assistant (35-40k) the rest are  hourly laborers. City is all union/salaried employees with full benefits. Getting them to improve golf course conditions is nearly impossible.

Ladera Golf Course - Golf Course in Albuquerque

Privatize (management), don’t subsidize City of Albuquerque golf courses

City of Albuquerque golf courses theoretically operate as “enterprise funds.” That means that they are supposed to be self-sustaining from a budget perspective. As the Albuquerque Journal points out, that has not been the case in recent years with golf running big deficits due to declining play.

The decline in play has at least temporarily been reversed due to the COVID 19 lockdowns as golfers (including yours truly) flock to the golf courses in search for outdoor recreation options, but in his new budget Mayor Keller has proposed placing golf courses back in the general budget where they won’t face the pressure of attempting to “break even.”

There ARE worthwhile approaches to improving the financial management at municipal golf courses. These ideas have been implemented in cities all over the nation including New York, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati (as this report from Reason Foundation points out).

  • Cost Savings. Government rules and practices can drive up costs. For example, golf-management firms typically enjoy discounts on everything from fertilizer to insurance, a concentrated buying power advantage that local governments do not usually possess.
  • Increased Revenues. From better advertising to programs that speed up play and allow more golfers to use the course, private operators often institute management practices that increase revenues.
  • Increased Quality. Most golf-course privatizations require the private contractor to make capital investments in the course to improve its quality.
  • Risk Minimization. In many golf-course privatizations the city gets a guaranteed rent even if the course revenues do not increase. This ensures that during the term of the contract, taxpayers will not be subsidizing the course.
  • Community Outreach. Most private operators can afford to expand a city’s community golf programs and are required to strategically plan these programs as part of the privatization contract.

Arroyo del Oso Golf Course — City of Albuquerque

Video highlights socialism on Navajo Reservation

To say that there are deep issues on Native American lands and reservations is an understatement. As with many challenges faced by various racial and ethnic groups in this country, there are real, historical reasons for the issues.

But history cannot be changed. What can be done to improve upon the situation in the here and now? A new video from Turning Point USA addresses some of these issues with appearances from some prominent Navajo women Karen Bedonie and Elisa Martinez. The stories and statistics discussed here are personal and powerful, but hopefully can lead to a much-needed discussion of reforms to use free markets, property rights, and the rule of law to improve conditions on tribal lands.

So, you can go to see the penguins, but NOT the aquarium?

In many ways Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller are two peas in the same “progressive” pod. But at times even the Mayor has at least been somewhat realistic about the response to COVID 19 while the Gov. issues all kinds of orders that fail to hold up to even the most cursory scrutiny.

Just last week the City had to backtrack on reopening the aquarium at the BioPark. But the relatively new “Penguin Chill” exhibit has been allowed to reopen. Having small children and having spent time in both facilities, it is impossible to justify this situation. The penguin exhibit is literally an aquarium for penguins.

We are certainly NOT making the case to close the penguin exhibit down. Rather, we’d like to see these and other, non-government facilities, reopened.

What’s OUR plan to reopen New Mexico? We’ve had once since APRIL!

Recently, RGF president Paul Gessing wrote an article that appeared in several papers around the State including the Santa Fe New Mexican taking Gov. Lujan Grisham to task for keeping New Mexico’s economy shut down for more than 6 months. A letter-writer to the paper responded, asking for the RGF’s plan. Basically, they asked “What’s our plan?”

Funny you should ask; RGF (and our friends at Power the Future) have had a plan since back in April. We STILL think our plan, called Fairly Open New Mexico is relevant.  Here’s the core of it:

  • Allow small businesses to reopen at the same standards applied to box stores.
  • A detailed plan for reopening including health criteria to be used for businesses to reopen. This should be a public document.
  • Governor Lujan Grisham and her Administration should immediately share the models upon which they are basing their quarantine/business restriction decisions.

We haven’t seen this.

Instead, New Mexico’s reopening has been painfully slow and haphazard despite the fact that we are now coming up on our 7 months of being locked down (it basically started on March 11). The problem was highlighted in our confusion over the reopening (or lack thereof) of bowling alleys in New Mexico and the Gov.’s pledge (made in her September 10 news conference) to keep bars and movie theaters shut down until we have a vaccine. Remember when movie theaters, bars, and casinos were supposed to reopen in June? (some tribal casinos are open, but only because they are outside the Gov.’s control)

Of course, if business reopening has been haphazard, the same is true for New Mexico’s schools.

Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 236: Brian Riedl – Federal Budget Challenges

On this week’s podcast interview Paul talks with Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Paul and Brian go back to Paul’s time in Washington with the National Taxpayers Union and Brian was with the Heritage Foundation. Brian is an expert on the federal budget and specifically studies and writes on government entitlement programs, federal debt, and the budget. Brian and Paul discuss numerous issues relating to the federal budget situation and the challenges (both political and numerical) that our nation faces and what the consequences of inaction could be.

Brian M. Riedl | C-SPAN.org